Four Poems by Ken Denberg

Silver, White, Red

Word finds me through a mutual friendship
your narrow brush with death was early fall.
Cutting into you, the clinical room
the weary recovery.  Eighteen years
between us, now married and living in
other regions, no longer do I rage
red at your name or remember weary
days leveled by lawyers, their documents.
Your cancer claiming the future children
you didn't want, that also claimed our man
upon hearing the word uterine left
without goodbye.  I am clueless these days
having grown up a little bit, at what
you might look like but remember your voice.


Short Story

Mostly we were quiet, we lay like a book
between the covers as stars spun around
the elliptic.  I had my eye on your
silhouette.  I fumbled with the matches
then left them alone for another night -
the empty, blank darkness was good enough.
She leaned against me the way a girl will
lean against a boy as we lie there, warm
in the cool room and the revolve of dark
yet when I slept I dreamed I was awake
the way a man ends up leaning away
from a woman, we were our own story.
Who is the protagonist, the foil
the plot like so many cups of coffee.


Riding fast, getting nowhere

The horse is brown, the rider is yellow
all motion, wild-eyed, kicking dust and flecks
up in clouds.  Joy or fear have corralled them
in this commotion.  In the sun the snow
in summer the puffed-up clouds, a dog runs
at the feet of the horse, the rider whoops
his hat in his hand.  Obscure destiny
and ghost-like faces steady in their speed
like a jet framed in the window, the sky
stars behind the blue that goes up, over.
If you glance away the rider speeds up
when looking he's still like moss covered stones.
By the road, the wide-eyed cows are staring
the mule shakes his envious head and snorts.


Snow Field, Washington County, N.Y.

In this green light under the shadow of pines
she was beautiful, and the poem also.
So, I slipped into your pocket, folded 
above the dust of images, passion
was kicking like squalls over the hay fields.
Your warm house in the snow and not snow was.
The wind was hard, salty, but the woman
lay with her pillows reading the sonnet
reading into the image before her
face like little green birds.  When she opened
the book again his face looked back at her.
There are no words to say what all this means.
In the play of the sonnet things matter
as much to me as you.  It was snowing.


Ken Denberg's poems appear in Southern Poetry Review, Agni Review, The Maryland Poetry Review, Sundog, The Southeast Review and others.  He is the editor of Snail's Pace Press, a not-for-profit literary publisher, in Cambridge, NY.

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